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Life in Douma, Syria

by Mohammed Badra

A Syrian takes a selfie next to an unexploded bomb buried in the tarmac of a road in the rebel-held area of Douma, outskirts of Damascus, Syria, 05 November 2015. epa / Mohammed Badra *** Local Caption *** 52439894

A Syrian takes a selfie next to an unexploded bomb buried in the tarmac of a road in the rebel-held area of Douma, outskirts of Damascus, Syria, 05 November 2015. epa / Mohammed Badra

Douma, north of the capital of Syria in Damascus, is the biggest city inside eastern al-Ghouta, controlled by forces fighting against the Syrian government. For the last four years, Douma has been out of the Assad regime’s control. And since then it has been shelled and bombed from forces loyal to the government.

Douma has been besieged. There is not enough food, no potable water, no medicine, no electricity, no fuel and no real education system.  In other words, you can say, no life.

This is what I’ve learned from the four years of documenting here in my country, where people have lost everything – their country, their jobs, their future and most of them have lost many people they loved. But the people here have a spirit that can’t die, because the person who has survived a bombing, can live forever, and the child who can smile after losing one of their family or friends, cannot be sad anymore.

Syrian children standing by a wall, Meda'a, Outskirts of Damascus, Syria, 12 May 2016. epa / Mohammed Badra *** Local Caption *** 52753590

Syrian children standing by a wall, Meda’a, Outskirts of Damascus, Syria, 12 May 2016. epa / Mohammed Badra

Substitutes reacting after their team-mates scored a goal during the first school football tournament, in the rebel-held city of Douma, Syria, 20 April 2016. Twelve teams took part in the first school football tournament that started on 16 April 2016. Ten days later the tournament was postponed after the fragile ceasefire between the government and rebel groups was breached by a wave of violence and several parts of Eastern Ghouta were targeted by government shelling. The final match was held on 14 May and al-Hekma school team snatched the title after beating al-Rowad school. epa / Mohammed Badra *** Local Caption *** 52763923

Substitutes reacting after their team-mates scored a goal during the first school football tournament, in the rebel-held city of Douma, Syria, 20 April 2016. Twelve teams took part in the first school football tournament that started on 16 April 2016. Ten days later the tournament was postponed after the fragile ceasefire between the government and rebel groups was breached by a wave of violence. The final match was held on 14 May and al-Hekma school team snatched the title after beating al-Rowad school. epa / Mohammed Badra

Some of my photos show the rubble, fire, the wounded and the dead.  But there is another side of Syria, where one can see happiness and joy.

Not all my pictures are from Douma, I have taken photos in other cities such as eastern al-Gouta,  Hamoria, Erbeen, and some of Damascus neighborhoods like Jober and al-Qaboon, Teshreen, Barza.

I am trying to focus on daily life of the people here, how they live, work, eat, celebrate, pray, and how they die.

Syrian people perform night prayers, Tarawih, during the month of Ramadan at a mosque in rebel-held town of Douma, Damascus, Syria, 15 June 2016. epa / Mohammed Badra *** Local Caption *** 52829139

Syrian people perform night prayers, Tarawih, during the month of Ramadan at a mosque in rebel-held town of Douma, Damascus, Syria, 15 June 2016. epa / Mohammed Badra

A worker throwing bread into the air in order to cool it off, in Douma, Syria, 19 June 2016. The Douma charity society provides the bakery with raw material for bread baking and pays for the workers' daily wages allowing the bakery to sell fresh bread. In exchange the bakery distributes some of its production to the poor in the neighbourhood. epa / Mohammed Badra *** Local Caption *** 52840168

A worker throwing bread into the air in order to cool it off, in Douma, Syria, 19 June 2016. The Douma charity society provides the bakery with raw material for bread baking and pays for the workers’ daily wages allowing the bakery to sell fresh bread. In exchange the bakery distributes some of its production to the poor in the neighbourhood. epa / Mohammed Badra

The cemeteries here have become multi-layered, with bodies being buried on top of others to save space.  Amusement parks are underground, something I consider a hospital for the children’s spirit.

People look on as others lay down the body of a dead woman inside a grave in the multi-layered graveyard of Douma city, Syria, 18 August 2016. The Local Council of Douma started digging multi-layered graves as a solution for the massacre that happened in August of 2015 when more than 100 Syrians were killed in airstrikes. 60 people were buried in two mass graves that night. The graveyard always contains at least 40 empty graves in case of mass killings. Each grave has eight stairs, with the unknown buried on top to enable later identification. epa / Mohammed Badra *** Local Caption *** 52970580

People look on as others lay down the body of a dead woman inside a grave in the multi-layered graveyard of Douma city, Syria, 18 August 2016. The Local Council of Douma started digging multi-layered graves as a solution for the massacre that happened in August of 2015 when more than 100 Syrians were killed in airstrikes. 60 people were buried in two mass graves that night. The graveyard always contains at least 40 empty graves in case of mass killings. Each grave has eight stairs, with the unknown buried on top to enable later identification. epa / Mohammed Badra

Some schools are also built underground like the al-Qaboon neighborhood, built in a basement after a huge massacre in November 2014 , when the Assad regime bombed the main school in al-Qaboon. Homes are being built in underground shelters.

Students running around inside al-Hayat school, rebel-held al-Qaboon, outskirts of Damascus, Syria, 19 October 2016. Al-Hayat school for minors was bombed on 05 November 2014, at least 13 students were killed that day. A ceasefire agreement was reached after the bombing. The school was relocated into the basement and controlled by an opposition faction (Free Syrian Army). epa / Mohammed Badra *** Local Caption *** 53077063

Students running around inside al-Hayat school, rebel-held al-Qaboon, outskirts of Damascus, Syria, 19 October 2016. Al-Hayat school for minors was bombed on 05 November 2014, at least 13 students were killed that day. A ceasefire agreement was reached after the bombing. The school was relocated into the basement and controlled by an opposition faction (Free Syrian Army). epa / Mohammed Badra

Students during recess in al-Hayat school, rebel-held al-Qaboon, outskirts of Damascus, Syria, 19 October 2016. epa / Mohammed Badra *** Local Caption *** 53077062

Students during recess in al-Hayat school, rebel-held al-Qaboon, outskirts of Damascus, Syria, 19 October 2016. epa / Mohammed Badra

Girls running in a school yard in Douma, Damascus, Syria, 12 April 2016. A ceasefire agreement in Syria that started on 27 February 2016 has allowed most children to return to their schools in conflict areas. epa / Mohammed Badra *** Local Caption *** 52697987

Girls running in a school yard in Douma, Damascus, Syria, 12 April 2016. A ceasefire agreement in Syria that started on 27 February 2016 has allowed most children to return to their schools in conflict areas. epa / Mohammed Badra

Now I want to focus on the economic side, where you can see the spirit of the people as they work.  You can see people trying to recycle garbage to make organic manure, people harvesting wheat, or bakers.

epa05347706 A syrian farmer throws wheat into a wheat mill during harvesting session in Hamorieh, outskirts of Damascus, Syria, 05 June 2016. epa / Mohammed Badra *** Local Caption *** 52805415

epa05347706 A syrian farmer throws wheat into a wheat mill during harvesting session in Hamorieh, outskirts of Damascus, Syria, 05 June 2016. epa / Mohammed Badra

A Syrian worker sifts through garbage to reach the organic manure beneath the surface, in Douma, Syria, 07 April 2016. The local council of Douma employs more than 30 men in the local garbage collection facility where they work on extracting the plastic materials from the garbage, then leaving the garbage under the sun for several months in order to get fermented so organic manure is formed, they then sift through the garbage to collect the manure which is provided to the local farmers to be used in agriculture. epa / Mohammed Badra *** Local Caption *** 52688285

A Syrian worker sifts through garbage to reach the organic manure beneath the surface, in Douma, Syria, 07 April 2016. The local council of Douma employs more than 30 men in the local garbage collection facility where they work on extracting the plastic materials from the garbage, then leaving the garbage under the sun for several months in order to get fermented so organic manure is formed, they then sift through the garbage to collect the manure which is provided to the local farmers to be used in agriculture. epa / Mohammed Badra

But the most lovely subject for me was about the beekeepers.  They make honey, under bombings. This is a noble and valuable thing.  And now I am focusing on the people working at Syriatel, a mobile network provider, and a lifeline to Syrians, to show the difficult daily life of the people working there.

Beekeepers working on bee hives, in a bee farm in Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Syria, 22 September 2016. epa / Mohammed Badra *** Local Caption *** 53033353

Beekeepers working on bee hives, in a bee farm in Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Syria, 22 September 2016. epa / Mohammed Badra

Bees flying around a beekeeper, on a bee farm in rebel-held Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Syria, 22 September 2016. epa / Mohammed Badra *** Local Caption *** 53033193

Bees flying around a beekeeper, on a bee farm in rebel-held Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Syria, 22 September 2016. epa / Mohammed Badra

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